Cedar Rapids Metropolis Council is contemplating funding a $ 71 million venue

Renderings show a proposed $ 71 million mixed use development that includes a Big Grove Brewery, Pickle Palace Bar and Grill with recreational space and other uses by local developers under 1st and 1st West LLC. (Courtesy of the City of Cedar Rapids)

A rendering shows a “Central Park” area within a proposed $ 71 million mixed use development that includes a Big Grove brewery, Pickle Palace bar and grill with recreational space and other uses by local developers at 1st and 2nd 1st West LLC. (Courtesy of the City of Cedar Rapids)

CEDAR RAPIDS – A proposal to convert an empty urban area once reserved for a casino into a Big Grove Brewery, entertainment center, and outdoor recreation space is advancing as officials harness the potential to attract passing visitors and locals for that win what they do hope becomes an inner city goal.

Cedar Rapids City Council at its meeting on Tuesday lunchtime will consider approving tentative terms and public financial incentives for $ 71 million mixed-use development on First Street and First Avenue W. That land was earmarked for a casino and related development until regulators voted twice against issuing a gambling license for a venue in Cedar Rapids.

A once-planned casino across the Cedar River from downtown Cedar Rapids between Interstate 380 and Second Avenue is now a $ 71 million planned mixed-use development. (The newspaper)

Despite the market uncertainty amid the pandemic, in June 2020 the nine-member city council authorized city manager Jeff Pomeranz and his staff to negotiate a term sheet for the project with local developers 1st and 1st West LLC, who then said they were determined to end the project to live.

Development is progressing according to the council, even though the Iowa Economic Development Authority tentatively awarded Cedar Rapids only $ 9 million in June under its competitive Reinvestment District program – $ 30.5 million less than the city requested to finance this and other “transformational” city projects.

“The developer has worked really hard to create an innovative space that we believe will be very attractive to the Cedar Rapids community and our visitors,” said Pomeranz.

Caleb Mason, interim manager for economic development, said the city has hired Zack Mannheimer, who founded the nonprofit Des Moines Social Club, a place that uses arts, theater and music to enrich the community, as a consultant to help Cedar Rapids on this help to develop existing assets for the project.

“How do you make these unique Cedar Rapids so that this is not just any development in a medium-sized market, but … build on our strengths?” Mason said von Mannheimer’s help.

Last year, Mason said, the city and the developers adapted the original design plans and created a “Central Park” element that extends two blocks in the middle of the development to improve the use of green spaces and create a pedestrian zone . Rainwater management with underground retention will take place underneath.

Mason said the developer will hire a landscape architect to help with the consistency of elements such as lighting that will be part of the outdoor meeting room. Parking would now be combined in one structure. The number of spaces required is still in progress.

For improved pedestrian visibility of the facility, Mason said, one side may contain items like a climbing wall and large screen for events or game days. The SW side of Second Avenue is lined with two- to four-story row houses.

In total, the development could bring 130 residential units online, as well as some condos and townhouses. It’s uncertain what the price points would be for these, Mason said, but that could range from housing costs for people who earn 60 to 80 percent of the region’s median income to the higher cost of condominiums.

Mason said city officials on the north block were considering how to combine this private development with plans for recovery on the Cedar River with the expected future construction of a 5-in-1 dam bypass, elements of the permanent flood protection system, and First Street SW cooperated.

The plan is to realign First Street SW away from the river and raise part of it four feet, Mason said. This would help ease the flow of traffic but ensure that Interstate 380 remains easily accessible to attract people to this new development while keeping them connected to the flow when leisure components are available.

“We have found this to be a win-win situation that maintains the openness of First Street and also creates some interest in the street,” said Mason. “We’re going to work on that there are some raised medians and plantings and make it an interesting, unique feature with the idea that people are wandering back and forth there.”

According to the proposed term sheet, the city would give a 20-year refund of 85 percent of the tax increases generated for each respective building. The equivalent of at least 250 full-time employees would be hired. This development would take place in three phases, starting in 2022 and ending in 2030.

In the first phase, a 43,530-square-foot development called Pickle Palace would feature Pickleball, rooftop decks, a bar and grill, event space, games, and a rooftop bar on the third floor.

“You can look either side of the river or the central park and see all the activity,” Mason said.

An 8,000-square-foot Big Grove Brewery remains on track. But very simple, Eddy – it will likely be in 2023 when the brewery brings their award-winning India Pale Ale with that name and the rest of their collection of craft beers and other alcoholic beverages to Cedar Rapids. Mason said construction is expected to begin in spring or early 2022 and will take about a year.

The remainder of this phase includes the construction of two mixed-use buildings with commercial space and around 72 residential units, which should be completed by December 2025.

The second phase, which is expected to begin in June 2023 and end in December 2027, would bring a four-story residential building with 32 units, a mixed-use building, eight townhouses and a city-owned parking ramp.

Mason said the parking lot was part of previous development plans that required a minimum investment of $ 90 million to $ 100 million, but would now be a separate urban project valued at an estimated $ 15 million to $ 20 million.

It can also offer a potential four- or five-story “boutique,” upscale select service, or extended stay hotel with around 100 rooms under a brand the city deems acceptable. This would have a double-sided entrance to access the outside area with seating, pocket games, and other activities, but also an entrance along First or Second Avenue SW, Mason said.

The third and final phase, with an expected start in June 2024 and completion in December 2030, would bring a planned 25,000 to 30,000 square meter entertainment center that could be converted into mixed-use office or hotel space. Three mixed-use buildings would offer some commercial and residential space.

Mason said the final development agreement would be presented to the council later to formalize the project terms and allow some flexibility in use to accommodate potential users.

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